Every cloud has a silver lining – and those heavy rain clouds a few weeks back may have dampened the long weekend for a few, but it does mean that for the next long weekend there’s an extra treat in store at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.
All that rain has meant that the Orchid Boardwalk within the park, which is home to 10 of the 26 orchid species found in Cayman, is blooming. If you have not admired the orchids before, or are a fan of these delicate flowers, don’t put off visiting.
“Right now is the ideal time to the visit the Botanic Park and view Cayman’s National Flower in all its glory,” says John Lawrus, general manager of the Botanic Park. “The ‘Wild Banana’ orchid (Myrmecophila thomsoniana), which is abundant throughout the entire park, can be viewed close up on the newly established Orchid Boardwalk. These orchids have been found nowhere else in the world and this epiphytic (tree-growing) orchid produces beautiful white and purple flowers on stalks, which can measure up to 6 feet in length.”
The orchid boardwalk is a joint project of the Botanic Park and the Cayman Islands Orchid Society. The boardwalk is a 600-foot-long raised boardwalk over seasonally flooded areas which provide a moist and humid environment highly conducive to the cultivation of the epiphytic orchids that grow there, John says.
When land is being cleared for development and trees felled, rescued orchids are taken to the boardwalk and given a chance to thrive. Eight hundred juvenile orchids from surrounding areas such as Jamaica, Central America, Cuba and southern Florida have also been planted there.
“Some of the other orchids that you may see in bloom right now include the Encyclia tampensis, Bromecanthe ‘Jamaica Fire’, Broughtonia sanguinea and its hybrids, as well as the delicate flowers of Tolumnia species – if you are able to find them,” John says.